Kenosha Unified School District elections (2014)
|General Election date:|
Method of election
What's at stake?
Kenosha Unified School District
Kenosha County, Wisconsin ballot measures
Local ballot measures, Wisconsin
Two seats on the Kenosha Board of Education are up for general election on April 1, 2014. Incumbent Jo Ann Taube and challengers Gary J. Kunich, Mike Falkofske and Dan Wade advanced from a February 18 primary against incumbent Robert Nuzzo and challenger Michael Kehoe.
Candidates are divided about the replacement of former superintendent Michele Hancock as well as the board's decision to negotiate with teachers despite a state law restricting collective bargaining over salaries. Ousted board member Robert Nuzzo supported Hancock while Jo Ann Taube advocated for changes to Hancock's reform policies. Taube has defended the board's decision to negotiate a new contract with teachers as an effort to ensure stability. Challengers Mike Falkofske, Gary J. Kunich and Dan Wade have criticized district officials for sacrificing transparency for stability.
About the districtKenosha County, Wisconsin. Kenosha is home to 100,150 residents according to the U.S. Census. Kenosha Unified School District is the third-largest school district in Wisconsin, serving 22,986 students during the 2010-11 school year.
Kenosha underperformed in comparison to the rest of Wisconsin in terms of higher education achievement in 2012. The United States Census Bureau found that 22.9% of Kenosha residents aged 25 years and older had attained a Bachelor's degree compared to 26.4% for Wisconsin as a whole. The median household income in Kenosha was $49,641 compared to $52,627 for the state of Wisconsin. The poverty rate in Kenosha was 16.2% compared to 12.5% for the entire state.
Method of board member selection
The Kenosha Board of Education consists of seven members elected at-large to three-year terms. There was a primary election on February 18, 2014 and the general election will be held on April 1, 2014. Three seats will be up for election in 2015 and two seats will be on the ballot in 2016.
Candidates for the Board of Education must be 18 years old, citizens of the United States and residents of the district at least 10 days before the election. Each candidate submitted at least 100 valid signatures to the Kenosha County Clerk by January 7, 2014.
- Mike Falkofske
- Graduate, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
- GIS specialist, MGP Inc.
- Gary J. Kunich
- Graduate, Thomas Edison State College and Regent University
- Communications director, Milwaukee Veteran Affairs Medical Center
- Veteran, U.S. Air Force
- Jo Ann Taube
- Graduate, Ouachita Baptist University and Northwestern University
- Retired educator
- Dan Wade
- Retired police chief
Candidates defeated in the primary
- Michael Kehoe
- Retired lawyer
- Robert Nuzzo
- Graduate, University of Maryland-College Park
- Manager, Southport Heating and Cooling
|Kenosha Board of Education, Primary, 3-year term, February 18, 2014|
|Nonpartisan||Jo Ann Taube Incumbent||19.7%||1,917|
|Nonpartisan||Gary J. Kunich||18.7%||1,826|
|Nonpartisan||Robert Nuzzo Incumbent||13%||1,271|
|Source: Kenosha County Clerk, "Spring Primary Election," accessed February 18, 2014 These results are unofficial.|
The Kenosha Education Association (KEA) endorsed Jo Ann Taube ahead of the February 18, 2014 primary. The KEA also encouraged voters to select either Michael Kehoe or Mike Falkofske on the primary ballot.
As of January 31, 2014, no candidate has filed a campaign finance report with the district office. State law allows candidates to claim exempt status from campaign finance reporting if contributions and expenditures do not exceed $1,000 during a calendar year.
Information about earlier elections can be found by clicking [show] at the right.
What's at stake?
Incumbent Jo Ann Taube will compete with challengers Gary J. Kunich, Mike Falkofske and Dan Wade for two available seats on April 1. Robert Nuzzo sought re-election to the board but did not advance from the February 18 primary. Newcomer Michael Kehoe was also defeated in the primary election.
Issues in the election
Accusations of racism
Former board member Pam Stevens has accused incumbent Jo Ann Taube of racially charged remarks about minority students at district schools. Stevens cited comments made by Taube during a January 29 forum at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside regarding achievement gaps in the district. Stevens quoted Taube as saying that "if black males are the problem we have to look into that." Taube countered that the quote was distorted because Stevens supports Dan Wade and Gary J. Kunich ahead of the April 1 election. The Kenosha News published the full quote from Taube in a February 21 report:
|“||There has been a concern nationally about over-identifying minority students, especially African American males. We need to understand that, but we also, if they pick up any bad habits, need to try to nip that in the bud as early as we can.||”|
During the January 29 forum, Taube cited Head Start and early kindergarten programs as essential to teaching all students the social skills necessary for academic success. Wade explained his views on the achievement gap in response to Taube:
|“||There is definitely inequality, I think, in the school system when it comes to minorities, and I believe the majority of that has to start at home, whether it be social skills or respect for authority and just respect in general...If they are not getting it at home, it may sound ridiculous, but maybe the parents should go back to school.||”|
February 5th forum
All six candidates for the Kenosha Board of Education participated in a forum hosted by the Kenosha Area Business Alliance on February 5th. The candidates debated the selection of a new superintendent as well as the board's negotiations with the Kenosha Education Association over a new contract. Robert Nuzzo noted that dysfunction on the board drove away former superintendent Michele Hancock, forcing the selection of a new superintendent. Mike Falkofske countered that Hancock hired friends as consultants and wasted resources on conferences rather than classroom expenses. Falkofske argued that the district needed an experienced superintendent to improve academic performance.
Gary J. Kunich and Dan Wade took current board members to task for negotiating a new contract with the teacher's union in fall 2013. Both candidates believe that the contract violates Act 10, a state law restricting collective bargaining. Wade's daughter, a former teacher in the district, filed suit against the district in November 2013 with the help of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. Jo Ann Taube argued that the new contract provided a stable working environment for teachers and staff after two years of uncertainty.
Issues in the district
Censure vote for Kyle Flood
The Board of Education unanimously voted during a February 25 meeting to censure board member Kyle Flood for citations issued by University of Wisconsin-Whitewater police officers. Flood, a student at the university, was ticketed for possession of drug paraphernalia on November 11, 2013 and vandalism in late December 2013. The vote was supported by board president Rebecca Stevens and Jo Ann Taube. Both members noted the district's efforts to ensure drug-free campuses in their support for the vote. District resident and former teacher Kristi Lacroix initiated an online petition to force Flood's removal from office after the incident became public. On February 14, Flood issued an apology but stated that he will not resign from the board.
Board negotiations with teachers' union
In November 2013, the Board of Education agreed to a new contract with the Kenosha Education Association (KEA) by a 4-3 vote. This agreement with the teachers' union drew attention because collective bargaining over public employee salaries is limited by state law under Act 10. This 2011 law also prohibits employers from withdrawing involuntary contributions to public employee unions from wages. The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), a conservative legal aid organization, and Kristi Lacroix are attempting to block the contract in court after the board vote. The WILL argues that the contract exceeded salary increase limits in Act 10. District officials counter that teachers were given one-time bonuses rather than salary increases under the agreement. The district will also comply with state law by only withdrawing union dues for teachers who request withdrawals. A county judge is scheduled to hear the case in April 2014.
|December 1, 2013||First day to circulate nominating petitions|
|January 7, 2014||Last day to submit nominating petitions to county clerk|
|February 18, 2014||Primary election day|
|March 24, 2014||Last day to file pre-election campaign finance report|
|April 1, 2014||General election day|
|July 21, 2014||Last day to file continuing campaign finance report|
Additional elections on the ballot
The Board of Education election will share the ballot with races for Kenosha City Council seats. The February 18 ballot includes a primary for the District 6 seat on the council. Residents of Kenosha will cast ballots for 17 seats on the City Council.
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Kenosha + School + District + Wisconsin"
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- Kenosha school district spars with teachers union over automatic dues deduction - Daily Journal
- WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Tax cut bill passes the Assembly; onto the ... - Pierce County Herald
- Homeroom: Grant will help low-income students play musical instruments - Kenosha News
- New Menominee chair will deliver State of the Tribes address - Wisconsin Radio Network
- Unified, KEA spar over union dues - Kenosha News
- Candidates for Southern Door School Board address the issues - Door County Advocate
- School Board needs to censure Flood - Kenosha News
- Connected Community partnership links schools - Kenosha News
- VIDEO: Kenosha bus driver fired after fight - WDJT
- Petition calls for Flood's resignation from Unified School Board - Kenosha News
- Kenosha Unified School District, Wisconsin
- Wisconsin school board elections, 2014
- List of school board elections in 2014
- School board elections, 2014
- Kenosha County, Wisconsin ballot measures
- Local ballot measures, Wisconsin
- Kenosha News, "Unified board takes a hit from candidates," February 5, 2014
- United States Census Bureau, "Kenosha, Wisconsin," accessed January 31, 2014
- National Center for Education Statistics, "ELSI Table Generator," accessed January 27, 2014
- Kenosha County Clerk, "Previous Election Results," accessed January 31, 2014
- Kenosha Unified School District, "Board Members," accessed January 31, 2014
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Ballot Access Checklist," accessed January 24, 2014
- Joe Kiriaki, Kenosha Education Association, "The Non-Endorsed Candidates for School Board," February 14, 2014
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Campaign Finance Overview: Local Candidates," May 2010
- Deneen Smith, Kenosha News, "Racism accusation aimed at School Board member," February 21, 2014
- Wisconsin Reporter, "Sauk Prairie school board may have violated Act 10 with new teachers’ contract," November 27, 2013
- Kenosha News, "School board votes to censure Flood," February 25, 2014
- Deneen Smith, Kenosha News, "Unified board president, vice president support Flood censure," February 14, 2014
- Erin Richards, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Kenosha schools, teachers union at odds over deducting union dues," February 11, 2014
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Campaign Finance Checklist," accessed January 24, 2014
- City of Kenosha, "Current Candidates," January 10, 2014
|2014 Kenosha Unified School District Elections|
|Election date:||April 1, 2014|
|Candidates:||At-large: • Mike Falkofske • Gary J. Kunich • Jo Ann Taube • Dan Wade|
Candidates defeated in the primary: • Michael Kehoe • Robert Nuzzo
|Important information:||What's at stake? • Key deadlines • Additional elections on the ballot|